Thursday, June 18, 2009

Step right up - A new winner every minute!

Recently a bottle that appeared on Ebay caught my attention. Not because it was rare, but because of the way it was described. The teaser said "GLOPPY TOP old KELLOGG'S NELSON COUNTY whiskey bottle". The "hook" read
"old and authentic amber glass handblown Applied Gloppy Top KELLOGG'S NELSON COUNTY EXTRA KENTUCKY BOURBON WHISKEY W.L. CO SOLE AGENTS whiskey bottle 5th."

Well sir, you've got my attention. I could see it now; pigeon blood red, crude as can be, hammer whittled, with that classic German glop top and a touch of spillover. But wait, the photo shows your basic meat 'n potatoes, straight amber, turn of the century, Kellogg with a sloppy tool job that, I guess if you wished hard enough and you were inexperienced enough, could be passed off as a glop. A quick email to the seller cautioning them on the fact that it was a crude tool top was sent. The text read;

"I'd be very careful about representing this piece as a glop top. Simply, they do not exist in this mold configuration. The only glopped Kellogg's are the red whittled ones that were blown in Germany in the '90s. They are a totally different mold and are blood red; not to be confused with the Riley Patent IT's that were sloppily tooled here in the US and which come in various shades of ambers. I've had several domestics over the years that could be passed off as applied to a novice collector but have always erred on the side of conservatism and described them as "wannabe glops".

This one could come back to haunt you..."

The email was met with a polite thank you And so the auction continues. And true to W.C. Fields observation of a sucker being born every minute, not one but two, suckers continue to slug it out for ownership. So far, the ante is up to $162~ and change for a bottle that might maybe bring $75~ at a show on a stretch, if you could find a buyer. Not bad; if you can get away with it. To the sellers credit, they did add a post script, buried at the end of the listing saying that it may not be a glop after all.

However, this brings me to the point of the article; What, if anything, can be done to hold ebay sellers accountable? Ebay, has been, and continues to be, "The Wild West".

Step right up gentleman, pay your dues and take your chances, a new winner every minute...


  1. KG,
    You sure did hit the nail on the head. Its a shame how much stuff is mis-represented on epay.
    D.B. (the bottle vault) has run enough bottles thru his auctions to know the difference between a tool & glob top. I guess its buyer beware.
    What really is a shame is seeing a really good bottle sell for way less than its worth. There are several collectors that continue to list really heavy bottles on the bay & take a beating when they sell. Too bad they don't call a few western collectors when they are thinking of getting rid of something before listing it on ebay. Maybe this site needs a "for sale section" or "trading post". Food for thought.

  2. Why does this surprise you? It is just another seller "doing business as usual" on fleaBay. BV is indeed knowledgeable enough to tell the difference, but he is using a "wannabe" to promote this Kellogg's. It is up to the buyer to be aware.

    My "weakness" has forced me to bring another globby "into the fold", as it were. Occasionally, something good does appear from the mists of the internet.

  3. Interesting replies, to say the least. I've been known to occasionally dabble as a buyer on ebay; have never sold - never will. There must be some kind of mystique though about auctioning off ones collection as opposed to getting a hard number for it from a known collector.

    Without exception, when I purchase a bottle on ebay, I contact the seller, ask them if what else they have to offer outside of the auction format. And, again without exception, am told that they would prefer to take their chances auctioning their goods off on ebay rather than setting a firm price that they would sell for.

    All the buyer can say is yes or no. I'll never understand...

  4. Not all of them, KG. I had one "pulled" today, after inquiring about it. The seller thought that I wouldn't be interested, but as it turns out...

  5. Please, Do tell~ I love happy endings!

  6. G.O., I'm with you on a trading post or a for sale area on the blog. I have thought about it, however briefly, and need some good ideas on the best way to proceed. Google controls the "side column" advertising area of course. They collect ad revenue and then dispurse it accordingly?. I thought of maybe another blog site, strictly for advertising bottles for sale or trade, linked to the western blogs now up and running. The posts would be "ads". Easy to edit, delete, so on. The ads could be flipped to the top of the blog every month or so to keep them from getting buried by more recent posts "ads".. Would give the tuned in collector base of the blog sites at least a heads up on what might be available. Any thoughts or ideas appreciated.

  7. Sounds good to me, as long as the sales are "fee free". I've had my fill of fleaBay and that rip off, PayPal.

  8. How about a regular website ? I have website building knowlege and could help.

  9. KG, the deal didn't work out because eBay denied his request to pull the bottle from auction. Oh well, we tried. I can't abide fleabay, so it'll just go where it goes.

  10. Andrew, sounds great. We, or at least I, would need you to probably take care of the website build. I would probably have as good a chance of building the next space vehicle as building a web site. A site that collectors could list their items for sale at a set price, kinda like a continuous online sales table. No fees to the seller or buyer, just trying to give the viewers a heads up when you are thinking of selling something. Other thoughts...

  11. I've had the idea to do this for some time, but like soleagent, lack the time and the MacGyver "know-how" of developing a solid website. I'd love to see this happen! Sellers could list bottles for their desired price. Buyers can then choose to buy, not buy, or suggest a counter-offer to the seller for approval of a deal. It would be just like a bottle show, but via the web!

    I've recently had some sub-par experiences selling bottles on ebay and it has left a sour taste in my mouth -- There's no way I'd list any good Whiskey (something over $500) on ebay right now. I think buyers are just too leary to drop a mortgage-sized paycheck on a heavy, when you don't get to see it in person. There's a huge amount of trust that a buyer must place in the words of a seller's description. So it's totally understandable that the heavier glass does poorly on ebay, yet goes wild in the glass auctions. Buyer's have much more confidence buying from a reputable auction like than from a private seller on ebay. Jeff and AmericanBottle auctions have a business reputation that encouragess buyers to bid freely without having to worry about some sort of iffy refund policy. I think that is why we just witnessed a Shoulder Crown Hotaling fifth sell for what it did! Had that same bottle been listed on ebay by a private seller, I doubt it would have surpasssed even $2500.

    When I sell bottles on ebay, I do indeed sell them towards their stregths and talk them up! But I also take it upon myself to disclose even the most minor flaws, damages, or issues. I know that when I describe something as small as even a non-radiating pot-stone, a tiny crush mark, or a scratch, it's going to eliminate would be buyers from taking a chance on an ebay purchase. Heck, I'm the same way whenever I'm the buyer on ebay! I always wish to see potential bottle purchases up close, in person, especially when it comes to buying a heavy! In fact, there's been numerous times where I've bought heavies in person at a show (after careful inspection and multiple lookovers), only to get home and discover a flash, small bruise, or check. Ebay is the opposite of the ideal venue for selling glob top fifths.

    I recently sold my Old Castle Fifth and Shoulder Crown Hotaling Fifth for reasonably low prices ($750/$1500 respectively), simply because I didn't want to even deal with ebay or wait around until the next on-line auction. It wasn't a total loss for me though, as I was able to sell them both to a friend, for slightly more than I originally had to pay for them. In the end, I may be able to see these bottles again and possibly buy them back somewhere down the road, since I know who the new proud owner is! In the case of ebay, any sold bottles usually end up with a distant stranger, never to re-surface again. And on another note, the money I received for the Old Castle and Shoulder Crown Fifth allowed me to add a stunning Green Bird Cutter, a screaming Yellow Large variant Lilienthal, and a slew of Star-Shields, Jesse Moore's, and several more Cutter fifths to the shelves.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.